Adaptation and resistance, exaggeration and lies, dreams and memories are recurring themes in Nicholas Galanin’s work. He draws upon a wide range of Indigenous technologies and global materials when exploring ideas through his art.
Born in Sitka, Alaska, Galanin has trained in traditional as well as contemporary approaches to art. His body of work simultaneously preserves his culture and explores new perceptual territory. He studied at the London Guildhall University where he received a bachelor of fine arts degree with honors in jewelry design and silversmithing. He earned a master’s degree in Indigenous visual arts at Massey University in New Zealand. Galanin is also an accomplished musician who performs under the name Silver Jackson. He finds new expression in fashion design. His many artistic influences merge in this multimedia exhibition of large sculptures, video and live performance.
Galanin says in his artist statement that culture cannot be contained as it unfolds: “My art enters this stream at many different points, looking backwards, looking forwards, generating its own sound and motion. I am inspired by generations of Tlingit and Unangax creativity and contribute to this wealthy conversation through active curiosity. There is no room in this exploration for the tired prescriptions of the ‘Indian art world’ and its institutions. Through creating I assert my freedom.”
This exhibition is part of the Patricia B. Wolf Solo Exhibition Series, presented with generous support from the Alaska State Council on the Arts; the National Endowment for the Arts, a federal agency; and the Anchorage Museum Foundation’s Alaska Airlines Silver Anniversary Fund.
This exhibition unites respect, relationship and homage to our communities, a harmony with land and environment, and a history of survival through sculptural installation, sound, moving image, performance, collaboration and adornment. The lens of colonial violence is often disregarded as a “necessary tragedy” to tame a final frontier with pioneering homesteads, while colonial mathematics only recounts the recent settler generation.
These works dissect, reconnect and map the real history of settler violence as experienced by First Nations peoples. New collaborations and creative discourse have been constructed, including work by Leonard Getinthecar (Nicholas & Jerrod Galanin) and No Pigs In Paradise, a collaboration with Nep Sidhu.
A Supple Plunder, by Leonard Getinthecar is a clarification of gross colonial perversion, honoring twelve Unangan men who were bound together and shot with one bullet, which lodged in the ninth man. No unveiled memorial, no national holiday, not even a school honoring these ancestors exists. No dollar bill memorializing the lives lost defending our homeland. No trial. No error.
No Pigs In Paradise as described by Nep Sidhu,
“...speaks to an understanding of the specific histories of First Nations’ women and a clear understanding of women as essential to the restoration of First Nations’ societies. First Nations women are reaffirmed as the integral component to the reestablishment of balance and harmony. The path exists and the end goal is clear. The right path in this instance starts with protecting the women – leveraging ornament, textile, ceremony, incantation so they can be prepared to lead their families, communities and societies to an exalted, harmonious and prosperous status quo.”
The legacy of human rights violations experienced by First Nations people, including and as a result of the genocide, still reverberate today evidenced by the epidemic of rape, homicide and kidnapping against First Nations women, the quick sale economy of First Nations culture, the misappropriation of our visual language, active amnesia and the blatant disregard for place and the history of our land.
The works contained within this exhibition push forward long standing conversations, artistic and discursive, within First Nation communities and amongst their allies about the most efficacious ways to restore harmony and balance. As people whose existence has always been dependent on the earth, uplifting our women, restoring our land and reinstituting our values are not contradictory acts. Rather these ideas run parallel and are the basis for a self-determined perseverance.